Chengdu Travel Blog› entry 34 of 162 › view all entries
Hot Humid and very Smoggy pretty much describes Chengdu. If you're out walking it isn't long before your eyes start to sting from the bad air. Actually in the internet cafe I am in right now, the air is just as bad due to all the smokers. *sigh* Thankfully a nice cool shower later will ease my eyes.
I arrived in Chengdu at 0530 on Monday without anywhere booked to stay. It was pitch black outside. But I grabbed a taxi and headed off to a guesthouse (Sim's) I had a card for. They could only book me into a 10-bed dorm without aircon. Ick. But I couldn't get into the room right now. So I got to sleep in one of their conservatories. Or at least cat-nap. Later, when I saw the room, I was alittle wary.
Having left my passport in with the PSB (it would take 5 days to get it back) I walked over to where I knew there were other hostels. The first one I came to was called the The Loft. I must say I was very very impressed. It has only been open for a few months so is still shiny and new. The staff speak perfect english. The rooms and beds looked comfy and every room has air con. Oh, and they have the must amazing showers. Gi-normous shower heads that just dump lots and lots of water on you - very appreciated in this heat and humidity.
So what about Chengdu. Well its a big city. 4 odd million people in it. Walking around it takes alot of time. It is possible to walk but it will probably take an hour to get where you want to be. Taxis are cheap and quite plentiful. Saying that I usually forget about catching a cab since I'm just not used to it and by the time I remember I'm nearly were I want to go anyway! Chengdu is pretty much like any big city - tall buildings, lots of people, lots of little kiosk shops, shopping streets and pedestrian areas (with many international shops and brands), Computer Street (well says it all really), restaurants, parks, Statues (of Mao).
So what to do here. Well you can take a tour out to the Panda Breeding Centre. Not as good as going to the Wolong Reserve but I suspect at this time of the year there wouldn't be many pandas to be seen at the reserve or at least not easily seen as it is soooooo hot. The pandas that were outside at the Centre were totally exhausted by the heat. So overcome that they were not up to moving at all and just lay sprawled tummy up and legs akimbo on the deck. Two new additions were a set of twins - alittle out of season if I understand correctly. All we could see of them was their very pink backside and tail as they snuggled in under a surrogate blanket in an incubator. The Centre is really just a zoo. Alittle sad and it would be nicer to see the panda's in the wide-open reserve but the Centre serves a purpose and the pandas look well looked-after.
I also took in a Sichuan Opera one evening. This was really a variety show. Very enjoyable. The acts that impressed me most were the
juggler - with the diablo. Though it was her juggling with her feet as she was lying down of a huge chinese pot and then a square table.
Shadow Hand Puppeteer - Absolutely fantastic. Cats, dogs, people, birds, rabbits...Just absolutely superb.Very life-like.
Mask Changers - WOW. No way of telling how they changed masks in full view. And then when they got down to their own face how they put the mask back on without you seeing how.
But other than that, I have been very slow here. I've enjoyed it. Between wandering around the town, looking at the shops and not buying anything except the occasional toilet roll(!), talking to people at the hostel, staff and new friends. Oh I forgot to mention about eating HotPot.
Some of you may connect Sichuan with rather hot chinese food. And you'd be right. One night I headed out with 3 others (Irish,English? and S.African) to a hotpot restaurant. This was alot of fun since firstly we didn't really know what we had order and secondly how we were supposed to proceed with eating the food! Anyway, this huge pot arrives and is placed in the hole in the centre of the table, under which a burner is lit. The pot is divided in two, with two different sauces.